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iPhone 8 Plus: The best smartphone camera we’ve ever tested (dxomark.com)
168 points by uptown on Sept 22, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 178 comments

Note : take the review with a pinch of salt. DXOmark do not review phones or cameras from companies that are not "collaborating" with them. They also have paid partnerships with a few manufacturers (see Oneplus 5 launch).

In this case, DXOMark magically added a metric (bokeh and zoom) just one week after the iPhone 8 review. Of course this is a good plus for Apple. Before iPhones were behind Google Pixel, behind HTC U11, Samsung S8+. They were not in the top 10. Now magically, they get to be on top. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a discussion or collaboration between doxmark and apple to review their metrics to have iPhone 8 and X under the best light possible

Comparing their subscores it's obvious that without the new zoom and bokeh categories the Pixel would have stayed on top.

Pixel v iPhone 8+

90 - 89 : Exposure and Contrast

80 - 78 : Color

98 - 74 : Autofocus

70 - 64 : Texture

65 - 68 : Noise

50 - 73 : Artifacts

81 - 84 : Flash

24 - 51 : Zoom

30 - 55 : Bokeh

91 - 89 : Video

I guess picking the "best" comes down to how important those features are to each customer. Though Google isn't standing still, the Pixel 2 is announced in two weeks.

As a Pixel owner I must say it's camera is very good. I used iPhones for a long time due to security features. Pixel's camera and reasonable hardware security lured me away. Pixel has no pure equivalent to Secure Enclave, but it is good enough. The HDR+ on it is great.

Every time I was caught by the richness of the Pixel. The iPhone 8 was ok, but seemed artificial. iPhone 7+ looks downright bad in some pics which goes to show how challenging the scenes must be as its camera is pretty decent.

On the other hand the iPhone 7 Plus was never reviewed while the Plus models always tended to be about 3-4 points better than the regular sized iPhones. But this was around the launch of the Google Pixel where they quoted (so I assume they paid) the DXO score to show how much better it was than the iPhone.

I think the scores are fairly registered but they tend to bend a bit when it comes down to money. Google (and their fans) shouldn't complain if they did the same trick before.

I think the iPhone 8 Plus has a really great camera and the numbers show it. Though the importance of bokeh and zoom is something that you can debate. But I like the pictures that the HTC, Pixel and S8 take a lot as well. For me personally having optical zoom is a killer feature and definitely the feature that nudges me into the direction of the iPhone 8 Plus.

What were the 10 phones above the iPhone before?

This feels like groundhog day. New iPhone [insert model] has the best camera ever! Fast forward two months: new Google [insert model] has the best camera ever!

I think we're getting to the point where the incremental gains we're seeing with each new phone cycle are almost unnoticeable to the average user who just wants to take photos of their kids to send to Grandma.

> the incremental gains we're seeing with each new phone cycle are almost unnoticeable

I don't think so. As someone with a whole lot of expensive "real" camera gear, I was astonished - and I don't really say that lightly - with what I saw a friend getting out of her iphone 7+. If three years ago you had shown me some of these images I would have sworn they were taken by at least five grand worth of gear, expertly used. And by all reports the 8 is another giant step up.

This techcrunch review tells the story: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/19/review-iphone-8/

I find this all incredibly exciting. It reminds me of the great democratisation of electronic music, where all of a sudden you didn't need $30k worth of hardware synths to make music - a single computer would do. A cambrian explosion of creativity ensued.

High quality and highly capable cameras - and video cameras - in the hands of the masses? Bring it on I say! How many thousands, if not millions, of incredible, moving, moment-defining images will be captured now we don't need a pro photographer on hand to do justice to a scene?

If we're gonna have cameras in smartphones - and we're gonna - they may as well be good, and Apple is setting the pace - and forcing down the price. Good on them.

I think your post actually proves the point of the person you were disagreeing with.

If you, someone experienced with "real" camera gear, were "astonished" by the iphone 7+ pictures and thought they were taken by "five grand worth of gear", then for the average person further gains are going to be unremarkable.

Yes, I understand that a camera gearhead finds everything new and each small improvement incredibly exciting. But for the average picture taker none of it is a big deal; what they have is already quite good, certainly good enough. Of course, it won't be hard for marketing to convince people that they should go out and once again fork over more of their hard earned money for "the best", even if it's in reality a minor improvement.

Also, for the real photographers the equipment is secondary. Better gear helps very little with creating better pictures. I assure you, people were making awesome pictures with digital cameras ten and twenty years ago, with specs that anybody would laugh at now. Good photographers can produce good pictures no matter what camera they take them with. (And, conversely, bad photographers produce crap no matter how good their cameras.)

> for the average picture taker none of it is a big deal

I think this is a pretty cynical view. OK, maybe the majority don't give a damn, but quite a few people obviously do. Someone's buying iPhones, and S8s, etc. It's pretty dark to assume that all of them are just brainwashed by marketing. Certainly I would say 50%+ of the smartphone owners I personally know were at least influenced by the camera quality.

> what they have is already quite good, certainly good enough

Well, the reason what they have might be "good enough" is because of this relentless "drag to quality" that Apple et al are orchestrating.

> for the real photographers the equipment is secondary

And yet all the "real photographers" have tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear. Funny, that. Look, there's a truth to it - no gear on earth will help you if you don't have an eye for framing, light, etc. But gear does matter and it's ridiculous to pretend otherwise. Direct me to your nearest pro/awarded/exhibited tog who wields a $100 point and shoot and I'll eat my words.

Here's one photographer using cheap point-and-shoot that comes quickly to mind: is Magnum photographer Alex Majoli good enough for you? He preferred to work with an Olympus C5050 point-and-shoot, which was cheap back then and you can pick up for $50 or less on ebay right now:


Seriously, photography is probably best example of a subculture full of amateurs who obsess over gear and think throwing more money at gear is going to give them a better end product (although there are many similar subcultures). Crap is crap, however good the gear is that's used to make it.

Here you can read another article about a professional photographer's use of cheaper cameras:


and, e.g., a discussion by serious photographers here:


.. and this page is also interesting, "13 Digital-point-and-shoots used by the pros":


.. or this one, some beautiful photos by photojournalist who paid $70 for the camera (way back in 2011) ...


Buyers do want significantly better quality, but phones are delivering only marginally better quality and marketing the hell out of it.

I say this as someone who used and tested the 5s, 6, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, Nexus 5x and Google Pixel. Every year brings a marginal improvement. Unless you have a many year old phone, upgrading won’t produce noticeably better photos.

The difference between 10 and 20 years ago is a bit of a stretch.

I won't argue with you on the first number. 10 years ago good photographers took beautiful images with the Canon 1Ds Mk III or the Nikon D300.

However, 20 years ago you were stuck with modified film bodies like the Kodak DCS520, shooting 2 megapixel images of questionable quality[0] for the bargain price of $15,000[1]

It is only fairly recently that any digital camera off the shelf is capable of producing "good" images with a good photographer, and we're now getting to the point where computational photography and incredible smartphone sensors will produce good images with a total novice at the helm. That's what makes this all so exciting.

0: https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/kodakdcs520/7 1: https://www.shutterbug.com/content/classic-digital-camerasbr...

>> 20 years ago is a bit of a stretch

20 years ago, in 1997, I bought my first -consumer- digital camera, an Epson Photo PC500. It had a resolution of 640x480. If I'm not mistaken, I think I paid around 700 CAD at the time. And the photos weren't even as good as "questionable quality". So I would go even further and say 20 years ago is a huge stretch.

Yes, you're right, I felt the 20 years was a little bit of a stretch, but it sounded better.

I do think at least 17 years is legit, though, back to release of Canon EOS D30 in 2000. D30 was only 3.3MP, but was used by a lot of professional photographers and made some great images (I still have one, taken by a photographer friend, that is one of my favorite pictures ever). I think it was priced around $3k.


You can read review by Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape, who called the D30 an "inflection point" and said it "changes the playing field forever". He took plenty of pictures with D30 and had multiple exhibits with gallery-size prints:


I'm pretty sure good photographers made great images with lesser digital cameras before that, but D30 was the camera that started people thinking that digital could really be as good as or better than film.

Ha, I actually didn't touch this part of the comment but yeah - 20 years ago, no. As part of my job at the time I had access to the very first sony mavica floppy disk digital camera, and a contemporary kodak I don't recall the model number of. Oh my god they were bad. They, in no way, shape or form, competed with film in quality. They were crap.

I'm not saying you can't see what the picture is of. Sure, you can. But nothing about it is pretty. Think about the lowest budget, crappiest webcam you can imagine - that's it.

"equipment is secondary" - buddy with that hardware you're taking "glitch in the matrix" digital dystopia pictures and basically nothing else. And hey I like that. But don't pretend it just needed a skilled hand. There were fundamental flaws and every photographer I knew back then swore they'd never forsake film, and who could blame them?

I think your post actually proves the point of the person you were disagreeing with.

If you, someone experienced with "real" camera gear, were "astonished" by the iphone 7+ pictures and thought they were taken by "five grand worth of gear", then for the average person further gains are going to be unremarkable.

That's kind of a strange argument, no? You're saying that if experienced photographers think the improvement is large, then average people can't tell the difference?

That's very strange.

Have a look at e.g. this paper from Google. http://www.hdrplusdata.org/hdrplus_preprint.pdf These changes certainly count as "astonishing" to me (let's say, an "enthusiastic amateaur" photog), and I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that this tech is insignificant to the average user.

Yeah it means that for the layman "great" is just "great" and "that's normal anyway technology always do great things". whereas as an expert you actually realize why it's hard to get to that point.

go explain to someone in high school why andrew wiles proof of fermat theorem is harder than galois theory... i'm bringin my pop corns

The argument is not that the recent improvement aren't noticeable. The argument is that there is a point of diminishing returns, and with such dramatic changes in the past few years we are closing in on them fast. Future changes are going to be harder and harder to notice.

>> That's very strange.

Not really. A layperson takes stuff for granted because they don't know better (or what to look for). An expert knows better and can appreciate the differences.

A layperson might not know why one photo looks better than another, but they can certainly tell that it still looks better.

An expert might know why, and be able to pick out a few reasons more why one is superior to the other, but the layperson still has a pair of eyes.

>> they can certainly tell that it still looks better

The thing is that this is highly subjective and widely varies from person to person. Sometimes it's related to the content (subject) of the photo, sometimes it's the colors, sometimes it's the sharpness, etc.

And sometimes the reason why the photo is "better" has more to do with the photographer's camera settings or technical choices than how good the camera is on paper.

I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable of cameras, but I will consistently say that a high DOF iPhone portrait is better than a portrait with razor thin DOF with silky bokeh shot on a Sony A9, when the A9 is clearly the superior camera. That's because my definition of "looks better" is highly subjective and unique to my own tastes and biases.

> a high DOF iPhone portrait is better than a portrait with razor thin DOF with silky bokeh shot on a Sony A9

I agree completely. I appreciate the gear like anyone else, but it's all about the end result. A recent iphone plus in portrait mode can genuinely capture an amazing looking, high apparent DOF photo. Yes it's all computer trickery but who cares. It looks great. An expert with an A9, with the right lens, primed for the shot, might be able to do better but - and here's the important part - 99.9% of the time they're not there.

> for the average picture taker none of it is a big deal; what they have is already quite good, certainly good enough

So many photos are all about edge cases. If one phone’s sunset or lightning or eclipse photos are more beautiful, people will notice—virally. We’re not at the marketable limit of miniature camera technology. Even if we hit perfect reality —> digital image compression, a smaller camera module, in line with the chassis, would still have a marketable advantage. We’re far from peak camera; gains shouldn’t be dismissed.

> If you, someone experienced with "real" camera gear, were "astonished" by the iphone 7+ pictures and thought they were taken by "five grand worth of gear", then for the average person further gains are going to be unremarkable.

I take issue with this, but even granting it as true for the sake of argument: most people aren't upgrading from a 7+ to an 8+... they're upgrading from a 5S, or a 6, and the difference is massive. Portrait Mode alone is giant leap forward for normal people taking pictures of kids or pets.

The original claim (GP of the comment you quoted) was:

> I think we're getting to the point where the incremental gains we're seeing with each new phone cycle are almost unnoticeable to the average user

That's why the comparison between phones of successive years was made. That being said, I'm not disagreeing with your claim that most people will upgrade from older devices.

I don't think your comment is logical.

> then for the average person further gains are going to be unremarkable

I'm the average person, I'm blown away by each iteration's improvement. I can already feel like the quality of the pictures I took with my previous phones were completely shitty whereas I did not noticed back then due to my lack of exposure with good quality pictures.

I have an iPhone 6S but I'm being tickled by the idea of upgrading just for the camera. Of course I won't, this is too expensive, but in a year or two I will.

Not really, there's always room for improvement. Look at all the times (starting with Mortal Kombat or so) people have said video game graphics can't get any noticeably better.

> High quality and highly capable cameras - and video cameras - in the hands of the masses? Bring it on I say! How many thousands, if not millions, of incredible, moving, moment-defining images will be captured now we don't need a pro photographer on hand to do justice to a scene?

I watch a fair amount of youtube, discoverability of "good" youtube content is very low in my experience, but if you're lucky you do stumble across some absolutely fantastic content that is completely on par with traditional, professionally staffed network television news or documentary shows, except produced by what is typically just a motivated consumer who's put in the work to learn the tools of the trade (and I expect that is probably quite a lot easier nowadays as well, as I imagine there are youtube channels that show you how do learn most all of the skills required to produce a solid youtube channel).

Truly a unique and exciting time in history!

I kind of agree with both points. When I take pictures out around town with my 7+ and my Sony RX100mk3, I'm amazed at how much better the iPhone pictures look-- at least on the iPhone screen, compared with the janky beat-up sony screen.

... then i get them into lightroom on a 5k display and I can immediately tell from the watercolor effect which photos were taken on the iphone -- often without zooming in at all.

Though the dynamic range looks better from the iPhone, likely only because it outputs jpegs and I'm using RAW on the Sony. Sometimes I use the iPhone shot as the reference for how to tweak+process the Sony pictures, which look better after said processing.

I agree. The 7 plus camera is amazing!

The camera upgrade is really the one thing that has be one the edge of upgrading my 7+ to an 8+, I'll still probably wait until next year's model.

I'm still considering getting a full-format mirrorless system someday, because even with as great as smartphone cameras are getting there's only so much you can do with an image sensor the size of a pea - but damned if they don't take good looking pictures regardless.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with skipping the current year's iPhone. I don't know why people have this mentality. For any brand, really. Most new phones nowadays are incremental upgrades, not "evolutions" so to speak.

I'm on my iPhone 6 (not even the 6s) right now and I'll be upgrading after three years of having it, but only because the screen is shattered, battery life is bad, and sometimes it's a bit slow.

I so wish Apple would make a full sized camera. Include the A11 and a touch screen and even cellular if you want, I don't care how much it costs. Imagine all this hardware and software applied to a real image sensor.

It's been a secret little dream of mine for quite some time that Apple would just buy Sony.

Sony's imaging hardware is the best, full stop. Their software sucks, full stop. I wish Apple would just buy them and fix that and my god, the things that could be done. An Apple/Sony a7Riii.. what was the phrase?

> I don't care how much it costs

I think we may start seeing Apple partner with more camera brands rather than buy them outright - see the current RED partnership they have for entry-level “cinema” cameras. It’s be nice if they did joint R&D instead of marketing/sales, though.

DSLRs plus skill plus lenses plus effort still produce the more interesting photos under the broadest range of circumstances. But smartphone cameras definitely should make anyone question purchasing a low-end DSLR with a kit lens that they only use to take pics on full auto.

That's not true. Some of the best photos I've seen were not taken with an DSLR. You'll definitely get higher quality photos, but that doesn't mean they're more interesting. But I do agree that buying an entry DSLR with kit lens isn't as tempting to some when smartphones are as good as they are today.

Interesting was probably the wrong word. Put cameras in the hands of 1 billion+ people who carry them 90% of the time and you'll get many images that photojournalists just wouldn't historically have been there to capture. [ADDED: And some of those will be inherently interesting.] But to me, quality/composition/control help lead to [most of] the most memorable photos, especially those that aren't just capturing an inherently interesting moment, but mileage on that may differ.

note: I'm not at all criticizing your comment, just adding one anecdote:

I tried an iPhone 7+ one for like 3 minutes, at 10pm in a low light bowling club surrounding. I wanted to taste the camera magic and left totally disappointed both by software and sensor. I don't know how I managed that but I succeeded into making a set of crappy shots. I tried fiddling with the focus and luminosity gizmo in vain.

I have a moto g3, pictures are just adequate (I don't pursue ultimate quality like I used to), but I'd still be curious to see some photo magic out of an iPhone.

Notice that none of these images are zooming in on pixels to get the comparison. The fight for quality among high end DSLR's is nearing the description of unnoticeable difference, but phone cameras are benefitting immensely from new tech.

In fact, it's probably the area where we see the most gain compared to any other improvements in iPhone versions.

Perhaps your feeling is from the fact that new phones are released in rapid succession. If that's the case, just compare quality in phones a year or two apart instead of a few months.

Biggest game in DSLR world right now is low light. The new D850 is pretty crazy in that respect, with a full stop of ISO reduction. No phone camera on this earth is going to help me take better photos in low light restaurants(which I need for a side business).

Also, focus stacking!

> Biggest game in DSLR world right now is low light

As an a7Sii owner I couldn't agree more (the D850 looks great too). Phone cameras are going to have a hard time catching up there. There's only so much light and at some point, sensor size matters.

In my GP comment I mentioned being amazed by my friend's iphone 7+ pics, and it's true, I was. But when the sun went down, the a7Sii ruled over everything and captured every good picture from then on. There's a long way to go for the mobiles to be able to compete at night. Nice to know our investments aren't totally useless :P

Is low light something that a lens attachment over the iPhone camera could help with? There's a few lenses out there that are supposed to be quite good (like the Moment ones) but I don't know if they help out with that. It would be interesting if they kept the FOV the same and just provided more light.

No, you still need a LARGE sensor to capture all that light. You're just not fitting that in a cell phone.

Well, you could collect a huge amount of light and send it through to the phone sensor; that would have the same effect. But you're talking a very big lens. The pro DSLRs have a 35mm sensor - that's ~865mm². The iphone's is what, 60mm²? Thereabouts?

No matter how you cut it, that's generously 1/10th the sensing area/capacity (same thing). And it's not like the sensor tech in the iPhone will be 10x more efficient than contemporary DSLRs - iPhone sensors are made by sony, who will use the same tech in their own cameras. To get comparable light cell for cell into that you'll need a lens with 10x more light ingress, and sophisticated optics to focus it precisely down to a tiny half-square-centimetre. This lens would be larger, heavier and more expensive than the phone itself. Think "large can of tomatoes" size.

Not saying it's impossible. Mobile phone companies have pulled off some amazing advances and I have no idea what tricks might be up their sleeves. But for now, no mobile even touches full frame DSLRs in low light, and it doesn't seem like an easy hill to climb.

You can get pretty good results by taking multiple shots and averaging the noise. Specially in raw.

Sure, more work, more time, less $$$.

Actually there is an example in the article, comparing pixel-level detail from the last 4 iPhones in a low-light scenario (“old man” picture). The improvement with the 8 is impressive to say the least.

Interestingly, the article points it out how far cellphone cameras have come by comparing shots from just various versions of iPhones and you can see how much better the quality has been getting even just from Apple.

Most users don’t get each new phone iteration. If they upgrade every 3 or 4 years, those incremental updates add up to a noticeable difference.

So you would rather have no progress at all? I don't get it, it seems like you are annoyed but - at what?

Reminds me of this: https://www.poorlydrawnlines.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/...

That's a false dichotomy. The alternative to living in a world where very slight progress gets overblown in the media isn't living in a world with no progress at all.

I have an iPhone 6s and the camera it came with was noticeably better than the Nexus 5 phone that I had prior to that.

And my Nikon DSLR still takes much better pictures than any phone on the market. If smartphones will ever improve to equal the better optics of a DSLR, we shall see, but there's tremendous room for improvement.

And most importantly, light is everything and biggest difference between a good camera and a bad one is the ability to make photos in poor light conditions. Improvements matter because I've had many attempts failed due to poor light, which are essentially lost memories.

Well lucky for you that's exactly the segment the new portrait modes would be enticing for. Also, phone cameras still have room to improve for low-light situations and in my experience they all denoise so heavily to the point of removing detail. This is all noticeable without zooming in as well so would be important for the average user.

Also it's a bit presumptuous to relegate all smartphone photography to that of quick snapshots of kids for grandma. Why shouldn't someone be able to take an action shot of their kid playing soccer (requires fast shutter speeds meaning better light sensitivity or wider aperture), utilize depth especially when contrasting between foreground and background, capture the high ranges present in landscape photos, crop out distracting elements and to a pleasing ratio (thus making the pixels important), use flash without washing out their subject or coloring them, capturing rich colors without having to later turn the saturation slider to 100 later, focus right away to catch that moment, etc... If you draw your own artificial line at what people should use their phone cameras for, you can justify any shitty camera, but if you want people to take quality photographs with top of the line DSLRs as benchmarks, and allow them to be creative with them and get the max out of them, there's still so much room for improvement.

I don't really care about cameras - I never really look at the photos I do take - but I feel like you're kidding yourself if you think these changes are small.

Dunno, I have the Google Pixel XL, it's the first camera that has made me not take my serious camera (a Fuji X series mirrorless) on trips. The quality of photos it produces is amazing, and the default camera app has some seriously good processing. You can do more with a serious camera, but I'm not sure it'll do much better with quick snaps.

You're right though, the constant marketing of phone cameras is kind of funny. I have no doubt the iPhone makes incremental improvements every year, as do other phone cameras.

Look at how these cameras progressed. Compare 8 to 4 year old phone:


I don't know that the incremental gains are unnoticeable, but we've definitely hit a point where no one camera is so vastly better than any other that the "winner" isn't going to change hands before you get a new phone.

Incrementally the differences are small

However, if you jump between generations it's interesting to see the difference. I sometimes see old pictures I've taken with old phones and the difference is much more visible

We are at the point where the incremental gains in voice-call quality we're seeing with each new cycle are not even mentioned.

Ignorance of the masses; Very few people realize when they get an HD Voice call that it's because they're on the same network.

It's frankly surprising that people make regular calls anymore because of the inter-network lack of HD voice; you'd think everybody would make hangouts or FaceTime calls.

Of course, the other likelihood from ignorance is that few people have good hearing.

The problem with "everybody would make hangouts or FaceTime calls" is that not everybody has unlimited data. Of course it depends how much you use your phone for calling while off wifi and how much data you pay for, but it's definitely not a factor worth ignoring.

Probably moreso because LTE might be the first type of network with enough reliability.

But, my best example is for doing interview phone screens. (where two people are at fixed positions with high speed networks)

I know a lot of people who make < 1 phone call per day and yet spend hours taking photos. Agree it's a shame.

Casting wide aspersions, I feel like it's because you can't get likes/upvotes for phone calls. But, Snapchat shows that ephemeralness is valued, so maybe it's something else behind the war on direct personal real communication.

Voice calls are pretty much the least used feature in smartphones for me. Certainly way, waaay below taking photos.

Agreed, the article could probably just be "newest camera on flagship phone best to date (won't be as good as next year's)"

Alternatively, "progress on camera technology continues to advance, see specifics here."

Not much of a Groundhog Day because the only google phone that was able to compete with iPhone in camera department was the latest pixel. All previous google phones had worse camera than an iPhone

Are you sure about that? Check our DxOMark's website from about 3 months ago: https://web.archive.org/web/20170629063431/https://www.dxoma...

There are plenty of Android phones far ahead of Apple devices.

I think he's specifically referring to the Nexus devices.

DXO rated the Nexus 6P higher than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: https://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Google-Nexus-6P-review-Serio...

Nexus 6p was release more than a year after iphone 6 and 6 plus. Iphone 6s was release around the same time as Nexus 6p and should be the one to be compared to.

OK, fine, Nexus 6P ranked higher than iPhone 6s as well. Here's the link you didn't bother to include: https://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Apple-iPhone-6s-review-Solid... "Despite our hopes for the new sensor, the Apple iPhone 6s posts an identical overall score as its predecessor."

You're normalizing progress, and taking it for granted.

I'm never not amazed at the state-of-the-art.

I always expect from new products in a line up to perform better than its brothers and sisters, because there is no reason in buying one if it would be worse than my old one.

The reviewers don't actually care about which camera is better. According to the author's earlier review of the Pixel, it rates better on every metric.. color, contrast, etc. They just rate the iPhone higher because it's newer.

They re-reviewed the Pixel with an updated, improved test protocol and the iPhone 8 is being compared to that.

DXO makes the equivalent of Lightroom, they're not a bunch of hipsters.

Wow, your camera can take great pictures of a landscape during the day? I'm impressed. /s

So far they all suck at low-light photography or moving subjects (or both at the same time like taking pictures of kids indoors at a birthday party). That would be a real breakthrough.

Low-light has been significantly improved on the 8/8 Plus, not just "small unnoticeable incremental updates" anymore:


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/71nvj7/low_light_pho...

EDIT Original source: http://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-8-camera-review-india

Isn't this just software? Slow sync flash is just synchronizing flash with a slower shutter and deciding what data to pull from the camera. Is there unique hardware required to do this?

This is low-light with flash, though, right? What about low-light without flash?

So do our eyes, but our brain makes up for it. Out of context, the brain doesn't have enough info (or maybe incentive) to do that job.

The optical image stabilisation & object tracking of our eyes is mind blowing. Optical illusions demonstrate the amount of interpolation that our brains to do aid vision / fill in the gaps of image detail coming from the eyes.

Not really intending to be an apologist for digital cameras nor disagree that they have a lot of room for improvement, but moreso just put it all in a different light.

I strongly disagree, I was out taking photos with an iPhone 6 the other month. Photos of a night-time street market I took were rather impressive.

have you tried the pixel? The low-light is amazing

Have you tried A7s with a f1.4 lens?

Most people who only photograph with phones, even high end ones, don't seem to realize that similar gains happen in the camera sensors as well. And them being always much larger, they will always be ahead in low light and in signal/noise ratio.

With all of the processing wizardry that goes into phone cameras these days, gets me thinking: will we reach a point where cameras are digital paintbrushes that construct a human-pleasing image out of hints from the real world, rather than tools that capture the real world?

There are probably plenty of people that will pay for a phone camera that makes them look less like themselves if it makes them look more attractive in subtle ways.

Cameras have never "captured the real world" in the sense of approximating what we see.

We never see static images of the world; we have a rather narrow field of vision and move our eyes constantly. So whatever we perceive of the world is basically a function of our attention. Remember those videos where volunteers perform some complicated collective task and fail to see a gorilla passing right between them.

Photos in contrast are static (the photographer has to hint towards the attention-point structure he thinks that reflects what attracted his eye in first place by framing and lighting) and two-dimensional (so the photographer has to select a focus structure that, again, hints at the attention-point structure).

This is why photos of crowds (think of the masses on the streets after the earthquake in Mexico) are either art-level pieces that basically employ the pictorial language of classical paintings; or don't seem to represent the story at all.

Photos have never been about capturing the "real world". Photos have always been about what the photographer wants you to see.

And this isn't new, in fact it's a phenomenon that's happening ever since Neanderthals and their cave paintings.

That sounds like a deep comment but that's about it.

I'm sure photography has served many uses, and capturing the real world is certainly one of them.

It’s just as deep as the parent.

When have photos ever been about accuracy? When they were black and white? Or when Polaroid had problems with furniture and colored skin?

I think the parent's comment is insightful. Modern consumer cameras and monitors purposefully mess the color profile to have more saturated colors and better contrast than what you see with the naked eye. Not due to a technical limitation but because it makes the image more pleasing to the eyes.

I don't take a lot of photographs so I don't care too much about cameras but not being able to display a decent image on a modern TV without having it mess it up on purpose is really annoying me. Even disabling all the post processing doesn't really work anymore. It's like those CD masters with all the sound pushed near saturation to make it sound louder, it's a cheap marketing gimmick.

Every time a friend of mine bought a phone in a country like China or Korea, the camera app had built-in filters to smooth the face and prettify the eyes. Often times these were also the default setting. So I think we are already at that stage in some parts of the world

Samsung did this with the Note 3, and I suspect other flagships around this time.

The rear-facing camera would default to their 'Auto' mode, switch to the front-facing and you have to switch out of something like 'Beauty' mode with tons of post-processing for selfies.

Selfies are inherently at a disadvantage, because shots are very close range with a wide angle lens exaggerate depth. Portrait photography is usually done with longer lenses, which you can't fake computationally so easily. So I think some of the selfie postprocessing is trying to make up for that.

Also most people are "ugly" up close. As in, we see micro features that distract from the macro.

Here's a conspiracy theory: what if some/most phones do this to some level noticeable only to the subconscious without any user knowledge of it happening? Maybe as some sort of marketing ploy to increase positive word of mouth.

"Hey $FRIEND, this new phone is great! I can't believe how good it makes me look. You can really see my eyes. Check it out!"

Like size inflation in clothes? "I can fit into a size x in these pants, but x+2 in those. The size x pants look way better."

In some ways, it’s been like that for a few years now. Modern mobile phone camera systems will take multiple individual pictures, align them for any movement, average out temporal noise if there was no motion, create an HDR image from multiple frames captured at different exposure settings, detect different sub-scenes (for example an indoor room and an outdoor scene viewed through a window) and apply individual exposure corrections, identify and isolate faces and apply pleasing lighting corrections, and much more. A big portion of the silicon area of the iPhone SoC is dedicated purely to this image processing pipeline.

Exactly. Image compensation and the concoction of an HDR image are the visual equivalent of a loudness enhanced audio file.

Loudness enhancement reduces the dynamic range of the source, and HDR enhancement also removes information to allow different information to be more easily perceived by the human.

> will we reach a point where cameras are digital paintbrushes that construct a human-pleasing image out of hints from the real world, rather than tools that capture the real world?

We're all stuck in Plato's cave. Aperture is just one thing you can use to change how a photo looks, and this has always been under the control of photographers:


I think we're already well past that point to be honest. One of the things people laud about the Google Pixel cameras is their HDR mode, and that's really not just capturing the real world as it is.

I hate to break this to you but most photos on social media have some kind of enhancement, whether that’s simply makeup, digital contorting or simply taking many many photos until the one that appears looks nothing like the subject. The new Apple Portrait mode will be another example of this.

I had a point-and-shoot years ago with a sunset mode that took really cool photos of sunsets. I little too cool. So I tried it well before sunset, and it produced all the vibrant colors with the sun halfway up the sky.

I think we are almost there already, the difference between my burner phone and a Pixel XL (previous 'best' camera-phone) is such that I find the ground beneath my feet as viewed through the lens of a Pixel XL to be much more beautiful than in real life.

My camera points outwards rather than in, sadly selfies are not helped in my personal situation.

The Pixel photos are the best of the lot. I don't understand why the author thinks the iPhone 8+ is better, except that it's newer and from Apple.

Pixel: https://cdn.dxomark.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Pixels-IM...

iPhone 8: https://cdn.dxomark.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ip8Plus-I...

That's not even close. Wider angle. Better range of contrast. Better sharpness of details. Hard to say which is truer to the colors without being there, but the colors look better on the Pixel.

---------- Edit: By their own ratings, the Pixel phone beats the iPhone on every metric scored:

Pixel v. iPhone 8+

90 - 89 :Exposure & Contrast

85 - 78 :Color

93 - 74 :Autofocus

93 - 64 :Texture

89 - 68 :Noise

84 - 73 :Artifacts

88 - 84 :Flash


89 - 96 :Final Score

How does the iPhone receive an overall rating substantially higher than its highest individual rating?

They re-reviewed the Pixel with a new test protocol, and the iPhone 8 is being compared to the results from that new test, whereas you're quoting the old values: https://www.dxomark.com/google-pixel-camera-review-retested-...

They did that about a week before issuing the iPhone 8+ review... I wonder why.

Edit: Also one day before the iPhone event on September 12. The purpose was clearly to create a situation under which they could have the iPhone win.

If it is true they do stuff to please sponsors it's equally suspicious they never reviewed the iPhone 7 Plus camera when Google used their numbers while presenting the Pixel phone.

Because the Pixel was the previous best device.

The iPhone captures the intricacies of the folds and flow of the white shirt, imo.

Otherwise the two photos just look very differently processed / post-processed. It wouldn't be hard to Photoshop the iPhone shot to look more like the Pixel shot. The reverse would be maybe harder, but the Pixel probably has some setting that would crank down the contrast.

Yea i agree here. A lot of this is up to taste, but the way it captures the fabric, especially the translucency, is a HUGE leap from anything i've seen out of a phone. The way the light plays off of and through it is something i've only seen from my mirrorless setup.

Don't get me wrong, the pixel is good, but i would say that's definitely an extra 10% leap at least even if i do think it's a bit warm color temp wise(and that's adjustable!)

Bokeh effect of the pixel looks terrible and artificial to me. It stands out like a sore thumb and I can always tell that it taken by a pixel before checking.

Wide angle is not something that is better or worse.

Don’t you see that the face colors on the pixel are not realistic, she looks dead white. Also try zoom into her face, you will see how much worse the quality is as well

I think that particular photo could go either way. Personally, I went from an iPhone 6 to a Pixel and then to the 7 plus, and I find the camera lacking in comparison to the pixel now. The front camera is fine, but the back camera on the Pixel was faster, sharper, and produced more vivid colors. Can't speak to the 8, but I personally found the test images not representative of the Pixel's quality in comparison to the other models listed.

"Vivid" often doesn't mean it's color accurate.

I think both the Pixel and iPhone Plus take some of the best mobile camera photos out there. The Pixel is much, much better at low light. However, the iPhone reproduces colors in a more realistic way. Most Pixel photos usually seem to have a harsher color tone, brighter/whiter, very cool like LEDs. The iPhone seems to favor a more warm color temperature, which I think generally produces worse low light photos, but more accurate color reproduction.

OP might have a monitor which shows the colors in a different way or just a different aesthetic for pictures.

First, we're comparing a 2048 x 1536 photo to a 4032x3024... so of course the iPhone will have better detail when zoomed in.

As for color, that is somewhat up for debate. I would say that the color of her lipstick in the iPhone looks unrealistic and she's probably not nearly as tan as the iPhone makes her look.

Well it’s a better second camera in iPhone that allows optical zoom, I don’t see why we should disregard that fact in comparison?

That fake bokeh looks really awful IMHO.

Indeed. On the other hand, it only uses one lens.

I'm only experienced in analog photography but I really prefer the Pixel's shot to the iPhone's. The background blur is a lot nicer, and the contrast range is really great. I've preferred the Pixel in other blind tests as well - it's a really great camera.

As someone who owns a $1300 Fuji x100F, color me impressed. The only thing really separating my Fuji from the iPhone 8 is the level of detail when zoomed in, otherwise the images just look great.

The performance of these smartphone cameras is getting closer and closer to DSLR's nowadays. However the level of zoomed in detail still can't compete, but most consumers don't care anyway because most just want to take pics of their food and post on instagram.

That seems wrong... Your x100F has an APS-C sensor and is going to benefit from better dynamic range and low light performance for it. The iPhone can use its auto HDR magic to recover dynamic range but that's gotta have an impact with moving subjects. The noise is accounted for by noise reduction and that will cause mushiness and loss of detail. I haven't seen an analysis, but I'd also imagine that the x100F is going to have a vastly more performant lens in terms of things like overall sharpness, microcontrast, and focal plane performance.

The iPhone 8 is doing some post processor magic to do lighting and bokeh in a way that is difficult to replicate either physically or in post. This is really nice! That said, real bokeh will be hard to beat even with AI as it depends a lot on the three-dimensional information available at the time of capture. AI will have to re-create that stuff and will always be an approximation. Of course, your x100F isn't going to be a bokeh monster, but other cameras at that level compare here.

You're right in that for IG food shots it's never going to matter and that's great because the iPhone created a golden age of photography, tbh. But it's silly to say that this hardware can compare to pro hardware. If you're shooting with pro hardware it's because you're going to push performance in some way or another and those are the times that an iPhone can't keep up.

That said, these AI improvements can help push performance as they improve and I'd love to see Apple work with a camera company to incorporate them.

>> But it's silly to say that this hardware can compare to pro hardware.

Yes, that is true for people who have some knowledge. For most non-photography-buffs, the comparison goes as far as "hey, that looks as good as the photo Uncle Joe shot on his DSLR". It's a very superficial comparison, but for a layperson, perception is reality.

I would liken it to the concept of "virtual surround sound". Of course, it's not really surround sound, but if the listener's ears and brain are tricked enough to think it's surround sound, it's surround sound to them.

I have the x100T and I'm considering selling it before it's too late. I love that camera, but now it's close enough to something that is in my pocket all the time.

Some of these images don't compare :( the scenes / perspectives differ quite a bit.

The first set with a person (woman in front of leaves, sun from behind) are particularly worthless. They didn't control for whether direct sunlight was hitting the sensor. Even a wannabe photog like me knows how that can wreak havoc on a shot and/or create beautiful effects.

Which ones? Are you talking about the fact that the Pixel has a wider angle lens?

I mean, you could crop those pictures but that wouldn't exactly be fair to the Pixel.

The portrait with the tree and the sun in the background is a clear example. Whether the sun is shining through the leaves of the tree or not will overwhelm any inter-phone differences.

I'm not convinced. You can see a little bit of flare in the 8 and 7 Plus photos, but global contrast doesn't seem to be affected.

I agree, these don't seem like carefully controlled experiments.

I think the actual dxomark tests are, but the pics in the article are prettier custom takes for the audience?

More revolutionary than the camera itself is the new image compression Apple is introducing. Can take all the photos in the world but we've still need to store them for all eternity. The effect of the image compression will be felt decades from now, whereas the marginal optical gain from the 7 Plus to the 8 Plus won't even be noticeable.

> More revolutionary than the camera itself is the new image compression Apple is introducing. Can take all the photos in the world but we've still need to store them for all eternity. The effect of the image compression will be felt decades from now, whereas the marginal optical gain from the 7 Plus to the 8 Plus won't even be noticeable.

I think you've got this exactly backwards.

In forty years a slightly better image will still be slightly better, but a 5MB vs a 10MB file will be as meaningless as comparing a 50KB vs a 100KB text file is today.

The problem get exacerbated by the fact that nearly every so-called picture friendly sharing service (Facebook, Instagram, etc) recompresses the shit out of uploads, destroying detail and mushing colors. It was so bad that I told my friend one of his shots was out of focus, except it was perfectly sharp in the original. I get that bandwidth and storage cost money, but there should be certain limits to how far you compress, or these services should use better formats (the state of the art is really promising).

Apple isn't normally classified as a camera company but they definitely are and that is one area where they are still able to still move the goal post.

Their make some of the world’s best consumer cameras, computer chips, and watches. And they truly excel at all of those. Kinda crazy

At least up to iPhone 7 the camera sensor wasn't made by Apple:


Currently, it seems to be made by Himax Technologies:


They use the same sensors as all the other phones. But I think they are perceived better because on default they apply lots of (destructive) contrast, while other Manufacturers use less to keep more Image Information.

Source? Are other manufactures capturing raw? Or are you saying other manufactures do less DSP?

Himax provides the front-facing camera.

Main rear sensors are still by Sony as far as I know.

Smartphone cameras are so good now, the differences in photo quality are pretty negligible between flagships. IMO, DxOMark basically makes mountains out of mole hills.

Given the option, I'd rather have killer new features like 3D scanning [1] than a bokeh effect which is slightly better to a trained eye.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/31/16232720/sony-xperia-xz1-...

The interior low light photo of the kitchen is quite impressive. But I'm not sure it was taken with just an iPhone.

+ The sink faucet has a shadow that comes from a low light source to the right.

+ The rest of the appliances on the counter cast shadows upward and toward the windows.

Are they saying it's better than the X, or have they just not tested the X yet?

> We look forward to testing the iPhone X and comparing it against the iPhone 8 Plus

Not yet tested.

Although it hasn't been tested yet, it's expected to be even better.

The article say that they haven’t tested X yet but they are looking forward to it as it adds OIS on both cameras.

Not tested yet. In the Conclusion, they say they're looking forward to testing the X.

The X isn't released, only announced. Hard to test without the gear...

Fair enough!

This article here is the reason why Apple is killing others it competes with. No one else goes to these lengths to perfect some feature. They just don't care. It's the reason the iPhone 8 is also years ahead of android phones in speed.


It's not perfect though, there are examples in some reviews of the feature screwing up and clipping fairs or giving odd shading.

Of course not. I was not making the claim it was perfect. Merely that only Apple goes to the lengths they do to try to make perfect things. You think samsung and google are running around studying paintings to try and understand the nuances of various styles and lighting? Hell no. They just through a common image processor in their phone and write some software to use it and call it a day. That's all I was saying. Apple goes really deep into things to understand how to make something better. I don't know any corporation other than Apple that dives that deep into details.

Actually, the camera teams at Google does camera studies. Apple is just much better at hyping and marketing what they do. I mean, Google runs the Google Cultural Institute and has photographed more artwork and paintings and sculptures than Apple has, and has constructed special cameras just for photographing such work, and special software focused on art preservation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOrJesw5ET8)

If Google just ships common stuff, then why did the Pixel score industry leading numbers on camera, beating the iPhone 7? And doesn't Apple ship Sony image censors, Qualcomm modems, and Samsung OLED displays? Or their "GPU" which is in fact, a licensed PowerVR IP.

You're buying into marketing hype. Apple's last keynote marketed 4K HDR as if they had invented it, they're marketing HEVC motion compensation as if they did something no one else had done, they sell "True Tone" displays, which aren't a feature of the display at all, but just adjusting color temperature based on ambient light sensor, which is something Samsung phones have been shipping for years.

Google and Android vendors do a piss poor job of calling attention to details they've obsessed over, while Apple deploys Johnny Ive to talk about chamfered edges. All this creates a mythos that Apple is the only company that cares about details.

The X is better yet right? Will it best the pixel 2?

It’s also apparently well over twice as fast as the latest Android phones. Essentially the latest Android phones are about as fast as iPhone 6s on realistic workloads. iPhone 6s is two years old. That’s what happens when you derive revenue from selling hardware and not ads.

as good as these cameras are, I feel like its a real missed opportunity not to partner with Canon or Nikon to get deep integration with their lens systems and essentially turn this into a DSLR that happens to use the iPhone as a sensor. I realize there are lens attachments in the wild but they're mostly trash, and its nowhere close to what it could be.

Smartphones have already killed off the casual camera market. I don't think Canon or Nikon would be willing to help Apple kill off the high-end camera market, too.

That's the thing though, they wouldn't be killing off anything except the $500 sensor shell. A DSLR is literally a lens platform. Let apple sell the razor, they can continue selling razorblades.

Sell a "case" that holds and attaches lenses for a hundred bucks or so, bundle it with an app, and allow people to continue using the same lenses, which they make more money on anyway. Commercially, this would be a huge win for whichever of the camera giants decides to do this first.

Additionally, under this model, the cost of the phone + case ($800 + $100) is higher than the cost of the DSLR sensor by itself (which runs about $600 new), so it doesn't necessarily make it obsolete, but it gives iPhone owners a lower barrier to entry for DSLR lenses, which I would imagine would drive lens sales quite a bit. I really don't see a downside here, if it's possible on a technical basis

Is it possible where cameras simply become so good on devices, that the next hollywood blockbuster is filmed on an iphone?

I know that is ridiculous, but I remember a "1mp" camera was advertised everywhere as a thing for a phone to have. It wasn't that long ago really.

Let's say your 2040 Iphone captures 4000mp of the entire visible scene. Then you have some special software that unicorns everything into amazing sauce.

I know this is all pretty whimsical, but none the less, I feel that the path we are going down is one that Nikon and Canon can't finish.

> Is it possible [...] that the next hollywood blockbuster is filmed on an iphone?


"How one of the best films at Sundance was shot using an iPhone 5S" https://www.theverge.com/2015/1/28/7925023/sundance-film-fes...

Or if you want something a bit more Hollywood, Gondry is experimenting with it.

"Michel Gondry debuts film shot entirely on Apple's iPhone 7" http://mashable.com/2017/07/01/michel-gondry-iphone-7-film/#...

Canon and Nikon aren't even willing to seriously get into the mirrorless camera space (which Sony is currently dominating), there is no way they would be willing to get into the cell phone camera space.

The problem with mirror less is that you can't ignore physics. Once you add on the comparatively longer lens, the biggest selling point(size reduction), isn't realized.

That really depends on the platform. If you're willing to go with a higher crop factor you will see real world size reductions in the lens.

For example, compare the size of the Panasonic M43 35-100/2.8 to the Canon 70-200/2.8 or Canon 70-200/4.0


There's a noticeable reduction in size and weight with the M43 gear if you're OK with the compromises of using a crop sensor.

I used to have an APS-C DSLR and carried a few lenses with me on trips. My main system now is Nikon 1 and in the same space in my bag that my DSLR and lenses used to take, I can put two bodies and five lenses.

While I know that many people consider the Nikon 1 system a joke, I chose it because it works very well for my specific needs (I also have some M43 gear but I still prefer my N1 gear because of the size). Obviously, I wouldn't recommend it to most people, since their needs don't necessarily line up with mine.

Main selling-points for mirrorless SLRs in my circle of photographer colleagues are:

1. Frame rate

2. Elimination of mirror-bounce blurring at slow shutter speeds

3. WYSIWYG viewfinder

Most of them are invested in Nikon or Canon lenses and are ready to throw thousands of dollars at the first mirrorless SLR from either of them which is exactly the same size as current mirror bodies. Many find the Sony mirror less bodies too small to hold.

I suspect that's the minority view. For most people (myself included), mirrorless (Fujifilm X-series) gives us most of capabilities of a DSLR in a far smaller/lighter package. But get above 135mm (35mm equivalent) focal length and those savings effectively go away.

Don't get me wrong, I use my Fujifilm camera more than my full-frame Canon DSLRs. But it's almost solely because the Fujifilm is smaller and lighter to travel with.

1,3 I rarely care about, and if 2 is a concern at such low shutter speeds, then break out the tripod, and exposure delay. I'll set mine for a second or two after mirror up, and voila. Plus, you're going to need new lenses, or extensions to adapt your existing FX lenses to it. The sensor distance won't be correct otherwise.

Of course, it will be fun to play with any new tech.

I'm skeptical. They've been saying this about iphones for years and my immediate family members who use iphones thing it has a crappy camera

https://www.dxomark.com/google-pixel-camera-review-retested-... should we really be praising a 4 point increase from a camera that has been out for two years and cost $150 less on launch?

Don't get me wrong, the iPhone 8 has a good camera, and it is marginally better than the pixel's, but is this really enough to celebrate?

The big improvements are somewhat lost in the overall, average score. If you look at some of the specific advancements it’s clear that some really impressive enhancements have been achieved. And if you look at a two or three year horizon, the difference is massive.

I'm not a camera prosumer in any means but what I saw was 'similar' to the pixel's. In the article I can see where is surpasses the pixel in these marginal aspects, but there would be no way I could pass a blind test of pictures taken from which phone

I did used to be a semi-pro portrait photographer so no doubt the differences jump out to me more than to the average person. One thing that should be quite easy to see is that the Pixel is losing a lot of detail in skin tones, both through overexposure and poor choice of color balance. Some of the Pixel images also have a lot of contrast applied (a matter of taste, up to a point, but it is often used to hide poor noise performance in low light portions of the image by rendering them black, and reduces editing options with the image after capture). But of course it’s not without reason that the Pixel got glowing reviews for its camera system when it came out, and it still puts in a decent showing.


- 8+: 94

- 8: 92

- Pixel / HTC U11: 90

Did Apple actually put different hardware and/or software in the 8+ vs the 8, or are we seeing the inevitable result of random hardware variation accounting for a 2 point swing?

Has anyone run an objective test on, say, ten iPhone 8 units vs 10 iPhone 8+ units? Other than Apple?

Yes, the 8+ for whatever reason has a more premium camera

the 8+ has 2x optical zoom via the second sensor, that's the only real difference

The second lens also enables the "bokeh".

I have to wonder if adding the IR thingamabob they use for facial recognition to the rear camera would help improve the out of focus blurring since the dot array would help the phone figure out rough distances of items in the frame.

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